Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joe the Plumber: Modern Day Tom Joad

mccain0508 The plumbing is alive tonight,
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it
I'm sittin' down here in the cable news' light,
Searchin' for the ghost of Plumber Joe.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Bunch of Hosers Boo Palin. What's that Aboot?

Self-proclaimed hockey mom and vice-presidential hopeful dropped the first puck at tonight's (Sat, October 11, 2008) Philadelphia Fliers game. And the native's were restless.

It's weird, because Philly sports fans are usually so gracious. Pop quiz: Would Sarah Palin prefer Pat's or Gino's steaks? Let's go to the videotape!

[Ed. Note: If you want to know about Joey Vento, ask Joey Vento. He'll tell you all about Joey Vento. Favorite highlight: Joey Vento criticizing people who cannot speak English, and then spitting out absolute word salad. ]

Campaign or Pillow Fight? We Report, You Decide.

sonny The early part of October 2008 in the United States has been marked by the ugliest campaigning in decades. Just ask Cindy McCain. Mrs. McCain claimed that Senator Barack Obama's campaign was the "dirtiest campaign in American history" (The Tennessean via [Ed. Note: Apparently Mrs. McCain was so corked on oxycotin in 2000 that she does not remember Bush2's South Carolina primary campaign against her husband, during which Bush2's camp claimed that Mrs. McCain was a drug addict and that their adopted Bangladeshi daughter was McCain's bi-racial illegitimate daughter. Either that or she thinks, you know, attacking a spouse and race-baiting is cool. Waaait a minute....]

Mrs. McCain did not mention how McCain and Palin supporters have recently taken to calling Senator Obama a "terrorist" at their rallies and even suggesting that someone should "kill him [Obama, not himself, alas]." In the days after her comment, videos of queues outside McCain and Palin rallies have captured that American tolerance that makes this country great.

McCain, however, is now feeling the backlash for the hate-mongering, as some in the media are comparing these tactics to "fascism" ( but with sources in article). In response to this backlash, McCain now finds himself trying to defuse the hate in his crowds; on October 10th, McCain told his supporters to be "respectful" of Obama, that Obama is "decent," to a chorus of boos. [Ed. Note: At the Obama rallies I have attended, the crowd has always cheered when Obama praises McCain's military service to the country, but today, October 11th, apparently the crowd on hand in Philadelphia began booing Obama's gracious talk about McCain. Of course, no one in PA is bitter.]

Afraid that McCain was going to effectively throw in the towel now that, according to some polls, Obama has opened up a double-digit lead on McCain despite McCain's economic rescue plan that he worked out on some abacus or bought on eBay or something.

All the above is to get to this point, the crown jewel in unintended double entendre or accidental allusion or whatever: At a McCain townhall in MN, "One woman who said she had a lot of undecided neighbors said she wanted McCain to 'go to the mattresses' on in his third and final debate with Obama on Wednesday" ( Now, my friend Brock would need go no further in his parsing than the obvious mis-quote of "go to the mat." If Brock were so inclinced, he might find a potential Freudian moment in that inaccurate quotation (or, perhaps, an unintended reference to a senior-citizen's bed time?).

However, while this Minnesotan (statistically speaking, she's probably a hockey mom but as for her being able to field-dress a moose, well, the numbers are fuzzy) mangled one cliche (coming into common usage around 1900, according the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms), she (most likely) inadvertently quoted the 1972 Academy Award-winning film The Godfather.

Sonny: No, no, no! No more! Not this time, consigliere. No more meetin's, no more discussions, no more Sollozzo tricks. You give 'em one message: I want Sollozzo. If not, it's all-out war; we go to the mattresses.

jamescaan Apparently, Sonny's reference is to the 16th century practice of Italian nobility heading for safe haven in the country when violence broke out at home. In The Godfather, Sonny implies the same strategy if it's "all out war." In short, in asking McCain to stand firm, she suggested that he head for the hills. So be it. As Tom Hagen tells Sonny, "Some of the other families won't sit still for an all out war."

Probably the Best Sports-Politics Article of this Campaign Season

elocho ESPN trades in part on an antagonism with LeBron James. Bron-Bron appears in ESPN ads, Bron-Bron puts rear-ends in La-Z-Boys in front of NBA games broadcast on ESPN, Bron-Bron graces the cover of ESPN: The Magazine, and even when Bron-Bron was a high-school student, ESPN carried news about the Ohioan wunderkind on SportsCenter.

LeBron_James_HS_lPortrait Yet, ESPN will, once a season or so, run a "news" segment on James's politics. As in, his lack of them. During those segments, ESPN contrasts Bron-Bron with Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown, whose careers as professional athletes are inextricable from their politics, and compares him to Michael Jordan, who infamously said, "Republicans buy sneakers, too." Overall, the suggestion is that Bron-Bron has a pulpit, and he should use it.1

Nevermind the apolitical hypocrisy underlying the fact that the ESPNzone in Denver, site of the 2008 DNC, still shills an ESPN-brand tee in the window featuring a simulated ballot with three options: a donkey, an elephant, and ESPN (which happens to be checked).

However, Joseph White, writing for the AP, has written a thoughtful article on the effect the current Obama-McCain contest resonates in NFL locker rooms, where no one present except maybe the boy shoveling up sweaty jocks into a laundry bin will save money under Obama's tax plan, while everyone (except said possibly-non-existent laundry boy) will save around a cool million under McCain's plan.2

While NFL players are all too often portrayed as frivolous or unintelligent, White's article shows how this race resonates in a meaningful way with many of them:

"We're right in the middle," said Washington Redskins veteran Philip Daniels. "We've all got family members that are not doing so well. Democrats would help them out, but Republicans would help us out." (

danielsThere it is in a nutshell. The article is fascinating in that is shows how some players who have come from modest beginnings hold onto that class awareness despite their astronomical contracts, while others have fully immersed themselves into a new social class (which may or may not fully accept them based upon race--for example, how many eyebrows would be raised if Jeff Feagles teed off at Augusta? How many if Adam Jones?).

Read the article.

1 If one were inclined to cynicism, one might problematize ESPN's credibility on the subject: They want a kid who was pushed through high school, used as a cash cow for the St. Vincent-St. Mary high school athletic department, and drafted first overall into the NBA to offer his insight on national politics. It's a bit like asking Doogie Howser how to pick up chicks. [Ed. Note: This is a reference to a fictional child prodigy skipping his adolescence entirely and entering economic and professional adulthood, not some coded reference to NPH, which upon further consideration makes me think I should have just gone with a Tom Hanks-Big simile.]

2 Yes, it is problematic that "save money" is synonymous with the much more general "benefit" in this discussion. As in, although you may pay more in taxes under Obama's plan, the lower- and middle-classes will receive much more help, making it less likely that some desperately marginalized lumpen will break into their (the players') homes on game day or gun them down outside an apartment building. Full disclosure: The editor believes a distinct and meaningful connection exists between the anxieties of poverty, the perceived and real lack of opportunities for so many Americans who earn the least, and the rage one feels when confronting the widening chasm between the material reality of most Americans and the wild extravagance exhibited by those who are paid to catch a football or baseball or to shoot a basket.